Pizza (New York)
Pizza (New England)
Since we're talking the greater New England region here, not just Boston, the Pats get serious points for the New Haven greats like Sally's Apizza, Frank Pepe's, Modern, Bar, Zuppardi's. There are the grilled pizza innovators of Rhode Island at Al Forno, not to mention newcomer When Pig's Fly up in Kittery, ME.
I'm not a fan of the Greek-style pan pizza that's prevalent in and around coastal New England, but if you're a fan, there's no better place than George's on the Cape.
Burgers (New York)
Let's start with non-cheffy "regular" burgers. Big surprise, we love our Shake Shack (I ask for mine rare, and more often than not, that's how it comes). We've recently been digging the burgers from FoodParc, too. Then you have the fancypants burgers like Minetta Tavern and Prime Meats, which offer the deeply satisfying pleasure only burgers made with prime dry-aged can bring. I recently discovered another one: a phenomenal burger at Roberta's in Bushwick for $12, definitely the best value for a fancierpants burger in NYC.
Burgers (New England)
Boston's got a lot of great things going for it, but burgers aren't at the top of the list, but it's not the black hole of burger banality it once was. For non-cheffy burgers, there's Flat Patties in Harvard Square. The thin, griddled, West Coast-style burger is served with oozy American cheese and special sauce on a soft, squishy, buttered and toasted bun. On the other end of the spectrum, take the seriously delicious, seriously funky and thoughtful one made at Cragie on Main. (Did you see our video yesterday?) Chef Tony Maws makes the patty from three cuts of sustainably-raised grass-fed beef ground together with bone marrow. Ken Oringer's Toro's burger is made with short rib and slathered in cotija cheese, and despite the white-linen atmosphere of his restaurant Radius, chef Michael Schlow also makes a serious horseradish-topped burger.
Hot Dogs (New York)
You can find a hot dog on just about every street corner. Gray's Papaya is one of the very best street dogs, with its great natural casing, all-beef dogs. Papaya King offers virtually the same dog; just watch out for all the Papaya impostors. We can't forget the original Nathan's dog on Coney Island. If you want fancier, fussier toppings, head over to Crif Dogs, a hotspot for late-night wasted eats. They cover the dogs in a mess of cole slaw, bacon, chili, cheese, jalapenos and avocados. Over in Brooklyn, Bark is making a $7 organic, gourmet dogs that reinvent the American classics with the best ingredients.
Hot Dogs (New England)
Connecticut has quite the hot dog culture. One of the most well-known stands, located right off 95, is Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield. The "New Englander" dog is a riff on nearby Rawley's Drive-In's legendary house dog: a split and grilled natural casing Hummel hot dog, covered in sauerkraut, homemade relish, bacon, and freshly cut onions. Over in Portland, Connecticut, Top Dog Hot Dog wins for most unique-looking: it's a crazy hot-dog-shaped Airstream trailer that parks along Route 66. Speed's massive simmered-in-vinegar-then-grilled dogs slathered in homemade chili and relish are a rite of passage for any Bostonian, and I've had some fine dogs from Hewtin's Mobile Hot Dog Truck in Providence.
Sandwiches (New York)
Think about New York sandwiches and it's only a couple seconds before you're picturing the pastrami sandwich at Katz's, so iconic and so seriously delicious. Ben's Best Delicatessen in Queens is another old-school favorite. As for the new wave of sandwiches, there's the meatball parm from Parm or the sit-down experience of the and house-cured ham and cheese sandwich from Gramercy Tavern's lunch menu, and so many more. You already know how much we love our sandwiches.
Sandwiches (New England)
This is where we get to talk about all those lobster and clam rolls dotting the New England coast. The coastal shores of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are populated with legendary shacks like the Clam Box in Ipswich, The Bite in Chillmark, and Woodman's in Essex, and plenty others for wicked good lobster rolls. As for non-aquatic sandwiches, there are the classic roast beef joints, and now we've got Cutty's in Brookline, where we can't get enough of their Broccoli Rabe Torta and Spuckie, a Bostonian riff on the muffuletta.
Ice Cream (New York)
Much of the great ice cream in New York these days can be found in Brooklyn. One of our favorites is Ample Hills Creamery in Prospect Heights, which is actually making two limited-time Super Bowl flavors. The "Patriots" is vanilla custard and chocolate ganache cake swirled into vanilla ice cream; the "Giants: is an apple blueberry crumble with a fruit crisp made of oatmeal topping, brown sugar and cinnamon, broken up and mixed into sweet cream ice cream. You gotta love a good ice creamery that also appreciates football, right? As for pastry-cheffy gelato, Meredith Kurtzman's insanely delicious olive oil gelato at Otto is one of my favorite bites of dessert in the entire city.
Ice Cream (New England)
New England is serious, serious ice cream territory. In Boston alone you've got Toscanini's and Christina's in Cambridge as well as multiple J.P. Licks locations. Then there's the venerable Herrell's in Northampton (started by Steve Herrell, who ironically now has a NY-based chain spinoff named after him). There are loads of road-side ice cream shacks all over New England that have been around for generations, like Four Seas on the Cape.
Breakfast (New York)
Breakfast means something different to everyone. In New York, it can be mac and cheese pancakes at Shopsin's, the breakfast sandwich at Maialino (fried eggs with roast pork on ciabatta; pictured), pancakes from the Eggs Travaganza cart in Midtown, the excellently crisp and un-soggy french toast from Prime Meats in Carroll Gardens, or a flaky croissant from Epicerie Boulud near Lincoln Center. These are all very fine reasons to get out of bed.
Breakfast (New England)
Shakshouka is like a liquid protein shake, and I'm very fond of it for breakfast. Sofra in Boston is definitely worth ordering, served with a fluffy pita. We've already mentioned him in the burger category, but Tony Maws does a killer brunch at Craigie on Main. Anyone care for some house-brined corned beef cheek and smoked tongue hash? Over at Mike and Patty's, we're quite fond of the "Bacon and Egg, Fancy" sandwich: eggs, thick-cut smoky bacon, creamy avocado, sharp cheddar, red onion, on multigrain bread with their housemade mayo. Thinking about the greater New England breakfast landscape, pancakes come to mind, like Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH, dressed in some locally made syrup, of course. (Vermont, we love your syrup, too.)
Bakeries (New York)
The staggeringly good Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho is the French pastry shop I've always wanted in my neighborhood (and conveniently, it's a quick stroll from SEHQ). We've tried pretty much everything on the menu; you can't leave without the kouign amman (pictured), an indulgent, insanely buttery, caramelized disk of deliciousness. If you're feeling doughnuts, the exciting options (like tres leches, carrot cake, and the blackout for chocaholics) at Doughnut Plant are some of our favorites. Wall's Bake Shop in Hewlett, Long Island, is a fantastic old-school bakery if you're craving rugelach.
Bakeries (New England)
We know that New England is doughnut country (even Dunkin' Donuts got its start there). Given all the apple orchards, you can find the country's best cider doughnuts, made from a fresh batch of cider, still hot and crisp. There's Fleming's Donut Shack in Easthampton where capegoers line up for their light and tender sour cream flavored rings—that's when they're not lining up for perfectly flaky, buttery croissants at newcomer PB Boulangerie in nearby Wellfleet. Another delicious aroma emanates from the ovens at Flour Bakery and Clear Flour (in the Boston area) where trays of sticky buns and morning buns are waiting to come out.
Soup (New York)
Don't you kind of love that we created a soup category? We could make this even more specific, just clam chowder. But that doesn't seem entirely fair. How many people in Manhattan actually eat Manhattan clam chowder? How about we look to matzo ball soup instead? You can find the Jewish penicillin at anonymous corner diners but a much better version is waiting for you at Blue Ribbon Bakery. More on that in my New York Times piece from 2006.
Soup (New England)
Chowda, you saw it coming from miles away. The plump bivalves that don't land into the fry baskets are thrown into a pot with heavy cream to simmer with potatoes and onions into a briny, rich soup. Some of the best, most consistent clam chowder I've had is from Legal Seafood—hey, even the stuff from the airport location is good. I'm also a fan of Bite's chowder in Chilmark, Mass (pictured): it's that perfect spoon-coating thickness with chopped local clams that are plentiful, flavorful, and have a satisfying chew.